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How moths pass the dry season in a Costa Rican dry forest

  • D. H. Janzen (a1)

The dry and largely deciduous forests in Santa Rosa National Park in northwestern lowland Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica, Central America, have a moth fauna of about 2800 species. These moths pass the six month rain-free dry season, and some other portions of the year, by: (a) remaining dormant in the egg stage (1 species only), (b) remaining dormant in the pupal or prepupal stage (many species), (c) undergoing larval development (a few species of particular life forms) (d) remaining in the Park as a potentially active but non-reproductive adult (many species), and (e) migrating out of the Park after one to two generations and then returning at the beginning of the following rainy season (a few species of particular life forms). The migrating moths constitute a strong link between the dry forest and the rainforests to the east of the dry forest. The seasonal patterns of dormancy of immatures, reproductively dormant adults, and migration are not well correlated with the simple presence or absence of foliage on host plants, or with climate changes (except that the temperature drop that occurs at the beginning of the rainy season appears to be a widely used cue for pupal eclosion). The pattern of habitat use by leaf-eating caterpillars is probably determined more by the seasonal abundance of carnivores (parasitoids and predators) than by the mere presence of leaves; this process is very strongly evident in the failure of many moths to have more than one generation per year, even when their host plants are leafy throughout the six month rainy season or are even evergreen.


Les forêts arides à feuilles caduques du parc national de Santa Rosa dans le nord-ouest de la province de Guanacaste, Costa Rica, Amerique centrale, ont une faune de mites d'environ 2800 espèces. Ces mites passent les six mois de la saison sans pluie et une autre partie de l'année en: (a) restant dormant d'espèces, (c) se développant en larves (peu d'espèces), (d) restant dans le parc sous forme d'adultes ayant une activité potentielle mais non reproductive, et (e) migrant hors du parc après une ou deux générations puis retournant lors de la prochaine saison des pluies, (peu d'espèces). La migration des mites constitue un retournant lors de la prochaine saison des pluies, (peu d'espèces). La migration des mites constitue un maillon important liant les forêts arides et les forêts humides. Les modèles saisonniers (les immatures dormants, adultes dormants qui peuvent se reproiduire) et la migration ne correspondent pas bien avec la présence ou l'absence des feuilles sur les plantes hôtes ou avec les changements du climat. (A l'exception de l'éclosion des pupes qui elle semble correspondre à la chute de température au commencement de la saison des pluies.) Le mode de vie des chenilles qui mangent les feuilles est propablement limité par l'abondance des carnivores (parasitoids et prédateurs) et non par l'abondance des feuilles. Cette régulation est évidente pour beaucoup de mites qui ont plus d'une génération par année, même si les plantes hôtes portent des feuilles pendant les six mois de pluie ou même si les arbres ont des feuilles persistantes.

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International Journal of Tropical Insect Science
  • ISSN: 1742-7584
  • EISSN: 1742-7592
  • URL: /core/journals/international-journal-of-tropical-insect-science
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